E-commerce Business from a Storage Unit

On weekends, I go junking. I go to garage sales, flea markets, thrift stores and junk yards. My intentions are to build up enough inventory to open my own little thrifty/redo shop. A few weekends ago, there was a storage unit auction on a some units at a facility near me. So, I went! While I was there contemplating if I should bid, I noticed a man a few units away taking things in and out of his unit. His stuff looked interesting...real interesting… so interesting, I thought I would go over and ask him if I could buy any of the stuff he was moving around. Well, he was so open to my asking if he had anything to sell, that I was a little surprised. I spent a bit on money on several pieces and proceeded to ask him questions about his unit. He told me that this little 10’ by 20’ storage unit was his Thrift Store!!!

Joe told me that he used to have a store in a nice little shopping center, but a new owner came in and doubled the rent for all of the tenants. He said he could no longer afford the space so he closed shop and moved out. A couple of weeks without his store and Joe fell into the blues. He missed the people he met and the dickering that went on when someone didn’t like his prices. He started selling his stock that he had taken out of the store at garage sales. But the inventory was taking up his garage, backyard shed and the extra bedroom. His wife insisted that he find a warehouse to put all of his goods. So, he looked in the local industrial parks and found that the offered space was just too large. 30,000 square feet was just a bit much. He talked to a farmer who had a barn for rent. But the barn had dirt floors and Joe was worried about critters. In his exasperation, Joe went to this storage facility where I found him. He used 3 units as his warehouse. He had approximately 700 square feet and was looking at doubling that amount in the near future. He is selling the items mostly on the internet and every few months he has a blow out garage sale at his home. I just happened to stop by on the day that he was moving dishes and pots and pans to a more organized shelf system he had set up. Joe said he was very happy with the situation as the rent was one third of the storefront and he had no utilities or common area maintenance fees to cover  and for the most part, he worked from home with his favorite music playing in the background.

I started to think of the convenience of this “storefront” idea for my own dream of opening a vintage thrift store. So I did a little research and found that Joe was one of many who are using a storage unit as their company's warehouse in the world of E-commerce.

Here is what I found and it sounds perfect to use a  storage space to keep all of your inventory and run your business.

You save lots of money by renting a Storage Unit. Buying your own warehouse is probably way out of price range and building a pole barn on your small city lot would be frowned on by the city fathers. So, the most cost effective way to organize your inventory is by renting a storage unit. If that one unit isn’t large enough, rent another!  The convenience of expansion is so easy on the investment budget. And you don’t have to rent too much space which is generally the problem with a full size warehouse. You also save money by not having an electric bill or a water bill or a gas bill!

Expanding your business is easy at a storage unit facility. If you need more space and you have a storefront, you can either rent out the space next to you when that merchant moves out or you can build an addition if it is an independent building. Selling your merchandise online, allows you to do business in any space you want! If you need more space because your business is booming and you have suddenly decided to add huge hutches to your sales items, you can just rent another unit! Of course, this is based upon availability of empty units at the facility. But most facility managers will work with you and let you know when the first one comes up. Another great part about expansion at a storage facility is that you don’t have to move far! And there is the other side where you may have sold out of much of your inventory during a holiday season and you don’t need all that space anymore. Just let the managers know when you will have the space ready. There are no long term commitments or contracts!

No leases are perfect situations for a fluctuating business. Committing for a long period of time to stay in this exact unit is not necessary. You can rent a unit on a monthly basis. If suddenly you decide that you want a store front again or a move to a far away land, no problem because you have no lease! A short notice to the front office and a good sweeping when everything is out and you are done!

Storage at a storage unit doesn’t have to be all about storage! Part of my dream Vintage shop is to take old furniture and paint it bright whimsical colors with designs all over. It would be great to have one unit that would be dedicated to simply furniture painting. I could set up a couple of tables, have all of my paints on a shelf and get to work. I would just have to pull down the door of the unit when I was finished for the day. If I was doing really well another unit could be used for photographing that painted furniture so that I could list it for sale online. Photographing items like furniture and clothing gets a little tricky in the outdoors. It can be washed out and unappealing. A storage unit would allow you to control the lighting and you would have no fight with a heavy breeze. So, a storage unit could be used for just your inventory, or you can use it for other business needs.

The safety net of a storage unit for your business will make you feel secure. Most storage facilities have an access gate or guard office. Just hit your ID numbers in the entry box and you are inside, not burglars. Self-storage units are constantly monitored by cameras that are always on and working. This not only prevents theft, it will make you feel secure knowing your unit is always being watched. The only way someone else can access your unit is if you give them the key to the lock and the special codes to get into the gate. Some facilities make people who are not on the paperwork to come inside the office to confirm their entrance. Facilities also have security lighting throughout. If you need to get something after dark, you can see what you are doing.

The most important part of running a business is for it to create a profit. For an ecommerce business, the most cost efficient way to save money in rent is to start off in a storage unit facility. Your inventory is safe and secure.You will never have to worry about your inventory being stolen due to the extra safety precautions that are taken. And if you decide to expand your business, you can move all of your inventory just down the row!

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